When Manchester United took to the Old Trafford turf on Match Day 7, they looked like the United of old when they capitalized on Manchester City’s loss to Tottenham by thrashing Sunderland 3-0 to regain the sanctuary of being top of the Premier League standing for the first time since winning it in 2013.
However, a thumping by the same score line at the hands of Arsenal a week later took the wind off their sails, acting as a subtle reminder than United after Fergie was one full of disparity and uncertainty.
With roughly a month before the curtains close on the 2015/16 Premier League season, here are four possible worse case scenarios for the club:
FA Cup knock-out
Despite breaking the bank in the summer to secure big money signings like Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin, the FA Cup remains Manchester United’s only chance of securing silverware this season: This being so after they were unequivocally knocked out of the League Cup, Champions League and seemingly nowhere close to the Premier League title.
Louis van Gaal will lead his charges against West Ham at the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday evening with the hope of making it to Wembley for the first time since taking up the managerial role at Old Trafford. Be that as it may, a loss would surely mean Manchester United would finish without a trophy for the third straight season.
Manchester City win the Champions League
The noisy neighbors have been at their most calamitous since announcing that Pep Guardiola will be taking over the reins of power from Pellegrini next season. With the Premier League contention narrowed down to a two horse race between Leicester City and Tottenham, Manchester City have been firing on all cylinders in the Champions League and this has reaped massive dividends.
The blue side of Manchester was sent into delirious celebrations after they advanced into the Champions League semi-finals for the first time following their 3-2 aggregate win over PSG on Tuesday night. Should Manchester City go on to win the Champions League, they will receive automatic qualification as the holders, thereby reducing the number of English teams qualifying for next year’s competition to three.
In turn, Manchester United would be the ones to bear the brunt as they would not qualify for the elite European cup competition even if they register a fourth place finish.
Liverpool win the Europa League
Liverpool are Manchester United’s sworn rivals since time immemorial and their meeting is always nothing short of a culmination of blood, sweat and snort. The reds easily saw off United in the round of 32 with a 3-1 aggregate win and now have a chance of advancing into the semi-finals with a win against Borussia Dortmund this Thursday.
Should Klopp inspire his army to clinching the Europa League, they will be rewarded with automatic promotion into next year’s Champions League.
Consequently, Manchester United will have to pay for their profligacy- like the one witnessed during their 3-0 hammering by Tottenham- as even a fourth place finish would just be another case of nearly but not quite.
Finish outside the top four
Failing to qualify for the Champions League coupled by a trophy-less season will be considered as a bog, monumental dip in form especially given the investments made over the past two seasons. Such an outcome could only have one end, the dismissal of Louis van Gaal as manager.
And with that Manchester United would be in the same precarious state, or perhaps even worse than they did when David Moyes left.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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